Water is a precious commodity, and it can be really hard to find room to fit a water tank anywhere on a 4WD, unless you have a Ute and can run an Under tray water tank. Fortunately, there’s some pretty neat water bladders that you can get today which make good use of voids, or unused space, particularly on the interior of your vehicle
If you have a camper trailer or caravan these are hugely popular for transporting water from town back to camp, without having to pack up and drive in, and risk losing your spot. My folks picked up one some time ago to take extra water with them on a long stay at Warroora Station, and I had a good look at it.
How strong are the 4WD water bladders?
Now, I can already hear you; these can’t be that strong, and you’d easily puncture one, no? In actual fact, they are surprisingly durable, and you can tell this when you feel one for the first time. They actually make fuel bladders for boats and agricultural applications, and that is something you absolutely don’t want to have leak.
Of course, if you wanted to put a hole in one you could easily, but general knocks and bumps, scuffs from the kids or a bit of weight on them isn’t going to result in an immediate puncture. You would bust one if you put a lot of weight on it, or you rubbed it against something sharp, but they are surprisingly durable.
What sizes do they come in?
You can get 4WD water bladders in a huge number of sizes. They start off at around 40L, and work their way up to 150L and well beyond, but that’s outside of the suitability for a 4WD. Most of them are a cylindrical shape, and you just buy the size that will fit in the space that you have.
Are they safe for drinking water?
You can get a variety of quality water bladders, and some are extremely cheap. Whilst they will likely come with a certification stating that the material is food grade and you are good to drink it, its not something that everyone is going to be comfortable with.
In the same way that you get a plastic taste when you fill your caravan water tanks up with a normal garden hose (which isn’t food grade), you can get a plastic taste from these. I’d be more than happy to use it for dishes, showers and general washing up, and would consider drinking from it once the taste is gone (several flushes later), but you might want to avoid it all together.
How do you use the water?
There’s a variety of ways to set your 4WD water bladder up. I’ve seen people just screw a small hose in, with a tap on the end that you can use to fill, and empty the bladder.
Place it where you want it to be, and make sure its nice and secure, and then fill it up carefully. When its full, you need to ensure that the tap can’t come on by accident, and stick it up out of the way.
When it comes to using the water, some people just use a hose to fill a bucket, or to rinse off with. If you want to transfer it into your van, an electric pump is worthwhile using, as its rare that the bladder will be high enough to gravity feed into the van. Of course, you can drain it into jerry cans and then tip it in, but its a fair bit of manual handling.
Storing the water bladders
One of the best things about these water bladders is that when you are done with them, you can let them dry out, and then roll them up, and tuck them away somewhere safely. They weigh very little, and don’t need to be in use all the time, but being able to take extra water when you do need to is hugely appreciated.
What do we do?
For us, we haven’t had any need to carry more water as we have a 50L undertray water tank on the Dmax, and 270L of water in the Reconn R2. That said, if we did want to carry more water I’d be more than happy to get a 4WD water bladder and lay it across the rear footwell of our Dmax.